Resident Evil Zero
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2013)|
|Resident Evil Zero|
North American box art depicting the protagonists Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen
|Developer(s)||Capcom Production Studio 3|
Resident Evil Zero (バイオハザード0?, Japanese title: biohazard 0) is the fifth entry in the survival horror series Resident Evil, developed and published by Capcom. It was originally released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. The game's storyline serves as a prequel to Resident Evil, covering the events and ordeals experienced by the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team, including Rebecca Chambers, 24 hours prior to the original game.
The main gameplay feature of Resident Evil Zero, dubbed the "partner zapping" system, is unique in the series in that instead of choosing a single character to play through the game, the player controls both of the main characters through the entire game: Rebecca Chambers, S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team's medic from the original Resident Evil, and Billy Coen, an escaped ex-military convict. Both characters can travel together, generally with one character being controlled by the player and other by the computer, or split up and search separate areas each at the same time - the player can control both characters simultaneously if in the same room, however. This dual control is central to solving some of the puzzles in the game. The difference between the characters is that Rebecca can acquire chemicals with her mixing kit and can get into tight spaces, but has less health. In contrast, Billy can handle heavy objects, has a lighter and can sustain more damage than Rebecca, but cannot mix herbs.
The game also does away with the use of item boxes placed in fixed locations for the player to store items in. Instead, the player can now drop items on the floor to make room for new ones, which they can later retrieve for future use. The locations of dropped items are displayed on the player's map.
On July 23, 1998, special police S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team is sent to investigate a series of grisly murders in the Arklay Mountains region outside of Raccoon City. On the way to the scene, the team's helicopter is sabotaged and crash lands in the forest. The team discovers an overturned military police transport truck and the mutilated corpses of two officers. After the team splits up, field medic Rebecca Chambers finds a zombie-infested train stopped in the middle of the forest. After a little exploration, she teams up with former Marine Billy Coen, a man the military police were escorting to his execution, and the two explore the remaining train compartments, combating zombies, swarms of strange leeches and a mutated scorpion. As the train begins speeding out of control towards a cliff, the two manage to apply the brakes and divert its course towards an abandoned research and training center.
The pair investigate the underground facility, facing off against the Umbrella Corporation's experiments: mutated insects, spiders and primates. They discover that the former operator of the facility, Dr. James Marcus, along with Ozwell E. Spencer and Edward Ashford, discovered the Progenitor virus, a strain of which causes rapid mutations when combined with the ebola virus. Ashford originally wanted to use the virus to help the handicapped through its regenerative effects, but after his death, Spencer and Marcus began research on its applications for bio-weapons, combining it with leech DNA which eventually led to the formation of the infectious T-virus, causing the zombie outbreak. After a showdown with a gigantic bat inside a church, Billy is attacked by a T-virus infected primate and becomes lost inside an underground laboratory.
While searching for him, Rebecca meets Bravo Team captain Enrico Marini. He tells Rebecca about "an old mansion which Umbrella uses for research" not far from the facility. Rebecca declines Enrico's offer to follow him there, instead deciding to continue her search for Billy, eventually finding him washed up on a walkway. After fighting the Tyrant together, the two eventually meet Marcus and discover that he caused the outbreak. Marcus had operated the facility until his assassination by two of Umbrella's prominent scientists (acting under Spencer's orders). During his dying moments, his pet queen leech had entered his body and reproduced exponentially over ten years, absorbing his DNA and memories and bringing him back to life. Marcus proceeds to split into a mass of leeches, before chasing Rebecca and Billy through the facility. As the Queen Leech, Rebecca, and Billy continue to fight, the facility's self-destruct mechanism is activated. After being injured due to a brief exposure to sunlight, the monster is paralyzed when the overhead entrance to the laboratory is opened just as the sun rises. Rebecca throws Billy a Magnum and he delivers the final shot to the Queen Leech.
As the facility crumbles, the two escape into the forest and come to a halt on a cliff overlooking the Spencer estate. They salute one another after Rebecca declares Billy "officially dead." Each goes their own way, with Rebecca heading towards the mansion to investigate the whereabouts of Bravo Team.
In contrast to other Resident Evil prototypes, which have been known to go through massive changes during production, the plan did not change as dramatically compared to the released version. Rebecca's original character design featured her wearing a beret instead of the red bandana she wears in the original game. In the released GameCube version, she wears neither (as her character model in the game is based on the remake of the original resident evil). The train in the beginning of the N64 version did not actually move until activated by the player. Edward Dewey was originally scripted to lose his hand to a Cerberus before his death, which would turn out to be the hand found by Joseph Frost in the original game. However, this would prove unnecessary with the inclusion of Kevin Dooley in the resident evil remake. The N64 version's graphics were more in line with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis than any other game in the series.
This is the last game to utilize a fixed third person camera perspective by default.
Nintendo 64 prototype
Developed by Capcom Production Studio 3, the concept of a prequel to the original Resident Evil first blossomed shortly after the Nintendo 64DD's announcement in 1995, when the original game itself was still in development. Early in the game's development, it was intended to be sold on a CD-ROM, with the possibility of an N64 cartridge-based version being researched in 1997. While the 64DD was intended to use CD-ROMs, Studio 3 instead chose to only use the cartridge-based Nintendo 64, as it was believed by the developers that the platform's cartridge-based media would be more-than capable in handling the item dropping and the unique 'partner zapping' systems proposed for the game than disc-based media, due to the lack of loading times.
It was not until January 1999 that the game, itself, was announced. The then-Flagship president Yoshiki Okamoto had previously let it slip to the gaming magazine Dengeki N64 that the game existed, though only said that it was for the Nintendo 64. Okamoto later talked to Famitsu about Zero in February 2000, revealing that some of the "EX files" of the recent Resident Evil 2 N64 port gave information regarding the backstory, but refused to give an answer to Famitsu's enquiry as to the identity of a man - Billy Coen - seen with Rebecca in an early screenshot. At that time the game's release date was expected to be around July 2000. Gameplay for Resident Evil Zero was first unveiled during the Tokyo Game Show in Spring 2000. Only footage of the train stage, the Ecliptic Express, was used because the quality of the other stages was not considered good enough for preview. While gameplay looked promising, there were slowdown issues when under attack from zombie dogs, possibly hinting at RAM-issues.
While it was hinted earlier that the game would be released at the end of the year, the game's status in January as being a mere 20% complete suggested otherwise. Production of the game had already begun to slow down when it became apparent that the game could not be supported on a single cartridge. Production stopped when it was decided that any attempt to make more room (i.e. deleting parts of the game) were not economically viable. When Nintendo's Dolphin (the codename for the GameCube) was announced in mid-2000, IGN predicted - accurately - that the game, although recently featured in a playable form at May's E3 expo, would be put on hold, believing Capcom to be awaiting specifications as to the coding to support this new console. By now both the public and Capcom were aware that Zero was no longer in large-scale development.
Production was revived shortly after Nintendo's unveiling of the GameCube in August 2000, which revealed a means to overcome the N64's memory problem in the form of a two-disk system; consequently, as a result of the transition to sixth generation consoles, the game was delayed so that the environments could be upgraded to match other 128-bit games of the generation. Since the GameCube made use of a disc-based media, the programmers were forced to rely on clever programming methods to shorten the loading times. The transition to the GameCube, while expected by the press, was finally confirmed early in the following September - initially intended to be at the Autumn Tokyo Game Show - with an expected release date shifted to late 2001 as Capcom's first game for the GameCube. When asked about the progress of biohazard 0 at a Capcom seminar in April 2001, it was made noted that due to "various circumstances", only the logo could be shown to the public. According to IGN, the game's scenario writer Noboru Sugimura (misnamed "Masushi Sugimura") had finished the story to the game so long ago that when recently asked by Capcom to rewrite a section, he had long-since forgotten what it was he had written.
In September 2001, following the GameCube-exclusivity announcement, Shinji Mikami clarified to the press as to what it detailed - along with confirming that Resident Evil was to be remade and not simply ported, Resident Evil Zero was to be released within a year of the first GameCube port, marking it as late 2002. The plan at the time was to release five of the six GameCube titles (Resident Evil 4 still needed much more development) in the same fiscal year between April and December. When the Japanese website GC Inside reported that 'biohazard 0 would not be present in any format at the Space World 2001 expo, rumours circulated that it had been quietly cancelled; Capcom quickly confirmed that the game was still in development and would simply not be attending.
The official website was updated in April to display new footage, including the character "zapping" feature. It was slated to appear at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2002. It was at E3 when an Autumn 2002 release date was applied to North America. In July, Capcom announced its intention to release a trial disk in Japan around August. The North American release date was confirmed as being in November time.
Resident Evil Zero for the GameCube was released on November 10, 2002 in North America, on November 21, 2002 in Japan, on February 28, 2003 in Australia, and on March 7, 2003 in Europe.
In late 2008, a Wii port was released only in Japan, having deviated from its expected July release date. This port was criticized by gamers due to the lack of new features. The basis of which was due to many gamers using the Wii's reverse-compatibility to play the cheaper GameCube port.
On March 12, 2009 Capcom announced that they will be releasing Resident Evil Zero and the 2002 version of Resident Evil (remake) on the Nintendo Wii in North America as the Resident Evil Archives, released as the "classics collection" and was slated to hit stores at the end of June 2009. Due to an unexpected error on game transfer, the Wii version was pushed back to early December 2009. The game's official North American release date was December 1, 2009, making Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Zero the last game in the Resident Evil series to be released before 2010. Capcom has since released an upgraded version of Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Zero that comes with an umbrella colored in the traditional white and red of the Umbrella Corporation and has the Umbrella logo on two sides. The port received little to no change from the original GameCube release.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2013)|
Resident Evil Zero was generally well received by critics and has sold 1.25 million copies worldwide.
However, many reviews were critical of some of the game's elements. 1UP.com felt that the series had become a cliché of predictability, with "crate-pushing puzzles" and the "self-destruct countdown during the final boss fight" already appearing in earlier titles, coupled with a "lame" backstory. Regardless, the work done by the backgrounds team was praised along with Zero's item-dropping feature, achieving a "B+" ranking. GameSpot put much time to discussing the player-zapping feature and, while pointing out its successes in strategy and in puzzle solving, they believed that "the mechanic [did not] really feel very innovative or interesting", mostly describing its uses as puzzle-related, though based around keeping one character stood still or sending items up a dumb-waiter to the other. Similarly to 1UP.com, GameSpot criticized the puzzle-planning further, noting similarities to those of previous titles.
Zero Hour is a novelization of the game written by S. D. Perry. It is the seventh and final Resident Evil novel written by Perry, but precedes the others in chronological order. It follows the same continuity as Perry's previous novels based on the series.
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